Dr. Aneta Pavlenko

Publicity pictureDr. Aneta Pavlenko 
University of Oslo

SLA tools in service of social justice: Multilingualism and forensic linguistics

Applied linguistics are often asked about the relevance of their research for the ‘real world’. What exactly do we apply linguistics to? What difference, if any, do we make? In this talk, I will discuss forensic linguistics as an area where SLA scholars are increasingly making a difference through both research and expert testimony. Drawing on my experience as forensic consultant and on my current research on comprehension of legal language by non-native speakers of English, I will discuss methods used to analyze language as evidence and highlight police interviews as one area where constraints on affective, cognitive and linguistic processing in a second language affect decision-making in dramatic ways. I will also consider ways in which we can integrate legal language in second language classrooms and affect public policy.


Aneta Pavlenko, Ph.D., is Research Professor II at the Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan at the University of Oslo. Her research focuses on the relationship between bilingualism, cognition and emotions. Her applied work examines the implications of these relationships for language policies, courtroom interaction and forensic linguistics. She is the winner of the 2009 TESOL Award for Distinguished Research and 2006 BAAL Book of the Year award and author of numerous articles and ten books, including The bilingual mind and what it tells us about language and thought (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Thinking and speaking in two languages (Multilingual Matters, 2011), The bilingual mental lexicon (Multilingual Matters, 2009), Bilingual minds: Emotional experience, expression, and representation (Multilingual Matters, 2006), and Emotions and multilingualism (Cambridge University Press, 2005).